Thursday, October 23, 2014

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Subway Ridership Broke MTA Record Last Month

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The Metropolitan transportation Authority says over 6.1 million people used the subway system on September 23, setting a new record for the most riders in a single day. NY1's Jsoe Martinez filed the following report.

There were more than six million riders in a single day five times in September alone.

That's a lot of trips through the turnstiles—a record, in fact.

"At the end of the day, customers know that there's no quicker, safer or more efficient way to get through the system or navigate the city than riding the subway," says Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman Kevin Ortiz.

No more than on September 23, when 6.1 million riders crammed into the subway on a Tuesda—topping a record that had stood for all of five days.

And dwarfing last October 24's daily ridership mark of 5.9 million.

Riders say they can feel the squeeze.

"They're really, really crowded. I really don't get time to sit down. I always have to stand every time I get on the train," says one rider.

"Rush hour is very busy. You have to always stand up. It's hard to get on sometimes on the train," says another.

The crush isn't limited to the the rush, though. The MTA says ridership has also soared during off-peak hours.

It's all part of a upward trend in subway ridership, which is at its highest level in 65 years, with 1.7 billion riders in 2013.

"It has helped the economy's getting better, but it's really the subways that are the engines of the economy," says Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign.

It's quite a change from 20 years ago, when 3.6 million riders rode the subway daily.

When you consider the sorry state of the transit system in the 1980s, with its graffiti-coated cars, high crime and shoddy service, MTA officials say it's proof that investing in the system has paid off.

"We basically had a system in disrepair, a system that wasn't safe," Ortiz says.

Now it is working on how to expand subway capacity—something with which the hoped-for December 2016 opening of the Second Avenue Subway should help.

MTA officials and transit advocates say that requires more investment. Right now, just about half of the MTA's $32 billion Capital Program for 2015 to 2019 isn't funded.

"They have set a bunch of strategies that they'll be able to follow if they get the necessary capital funds, like computerizing train signals, so you can run more trains. It's an opportunity for the city's future. It's also a challenge," Russianoff says.

It's one that's bigger than boarding a packed train.

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